Now for the final part of the preview…the para-rowing events.
The classifications have changed since Rio so perhaps need a little explaining.
“PR3 (Formerly LTA)
Physical Impairment, Visual Impairment and Intellectual Disability (ID). This sport class is for rowers who have the use of their legs, trunk and arms, who can utilize the sliding seat. Note that ID is not an eligible impairment for FISA events.
Examples of PR3 impairments include (but are not limited to):
Limb loss, at least full loss of three fingers on one hand, or at least a tarsal metatarsal amputation of the foot
- Loss of muscle strength e.g. equivalent to incomplete spinal cord injury at S1
- Minimal ataxia, athetosis, hypertonia. E.g. Cerebral Palsy, brain injury, stroke or MS, usually affecting only one limb
PR2 (Formerly TA)
Physical Impairment. This sport class is for rowers who have trunk and arm movement, who are unable to use their legs to propel the sliding seat.
Examples of PR2 impairments include (but are not limited to):
- Limb loss equivalent to a double around the knee amputation
- Significant muscle strength loss in both legs equivalent to complete spinal cord injury at L3 level or incomplete lesion at L1
- Ataxia, athetosis or hypertonia from CP, brain injury or stroke which affects both legs or one side of the body
- Significant permanently decreased range of motion in one or both knees
PR1 (Formerly AS)
Physical Impairment. This sport class is for athletes who row predominately with their arms and shoulders. Athletes use strapping around their mid section to provide support and stability in the boat.
Examples of PR1 impairments include (but are not limited to):
- Ataxia, athetosis or hypertonia from CP, brain injury or stroke who use a wheelchair, with both legs and the trunk involved
- Loss of muscle strength equivalent to complete spinal cord injury at T12 level”
It’s also worth commenting that this year all the Para-Rowing classes are racing over the full 2000m. It’s a massive feat of strength and endurance, especially for the PR1 events, for the athletes racing the full 2K with just their upper bodies.
Right..so now that’s understood onto the events.
China, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Mexico, Norway, South Africa, USA
China’s Lili Wang won silver at the Rio Paralympic Games. She’s not raced so far this season but comes into Sarasota as the athlete with one of the strongest pedigrees.
The favourite for the event may well be Israel’s Moran Samuel. She was 5th at the London Olympics and was World Champion in 2015 and bronze medallist at the Rio Games. She didn’t race at the Poznan World Cup (the only World Cup which fielded para-rowing events) but did race at the Gavirate Adaptive Rowing Regatta where she won gold.
Runner-up to Moran in Gavirate was Norway’s Birgit Skarstein. She was World Champion in 2015 and just missed out on the medals in Rio. She dominated a small 3 boat field in Poznan winning by 45 seconds.
48 year old Sylvia Pille-Steppart from Germany won bronze in Gavirate and followed this up with silver at the Poznan World Cup was runner-her first international medal.
Italy’s Anita Hoxha finished in the bronze medal position in the three boat final at the Poznan Regatta and was 5th in Gavirate.
Also keep an eye out for the USA’s Hallie Smith from Washington D.C. She’s making her international debut after securing her spot on the team with victory at the US Trials. The US always produce strong para-rowing athletes and Smith could well be the dark horse of the event.
My picks…China in gold with Norway in silver and Israel just holding off the US for the bronze.
Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Great Britain, Germany, Hungary, Israel, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Russia, Ukraine, USA
This looks set to be a showdown between two fierce rivals, Erik Horrie of Australia and Roman Polianskyi of Ukraine.
Horrie is one of the most experienced athletes in the field. The 37 year old won silver at the London Paralympics and then became World Champion in 2013, a title he successfully defended in both 2014 and 2015. In Rio he won his 2nd Paralympic silver medal. The man who beat him in Rio was Polianskyi. Horrie has yet to race internationally over the new 2K distance whereas the Ukrainian competed both at Gavirate and in Poznan, winning gold on both occasions. The first meeting of these two athletes for the 2017 season should be really interesting to watch.
Behind these two the next favourite for a medal is Great Britain’s Andrew Houghton. Filling the mighty shoes of the legendary Tom Aggar, Houghton has made an impressive start to his 2017 campaign with a silver medal in Gavirate.
Another athlete chasing a medal is the USA’s Blake Hoxton. He finished just outside of the medals at the 2014 and 2015 World Championships and took 4th at the Rio Paralympics. A graduate of the Moritz College of Law at Ohio State University he will be looking to go at least one better than his result in Rio.
Also keep an eye out for Brazil’s Rene Pereira, 7th in the world in 2015 and an A-Fnalist in Rio and was 6th at the Poznan World Cup.
The final athlete to mention is Russia’s Alexey Chuvashev. A bronze medallist at the Lodon Paralympics he won World bronze medals in 2013 and 2014. The suspension of the entire Russian team from the Rio Paralympics probably robbed him of another medal. So far in 2017 he’s raced at the Poznan World Cup finishing 9 seconds behind Polianskyi in the silver medal position.
My picks…Horrie for the gold just ahead of the Ukrainian with Houghton of GB in bronze.
China, Netherlands, Poland, Ukraine, USA
China, Shuang Liu and Tianming Fei are the silver medallists from the Rio Paralympics. Fei also raced in London (with Xiaoxian Lou) winning the gold. These are the only 2 races Fei has done and he’s won medals in both. The Chinese pair will surely start as favourites in Sarasota.
The Dutch, Annika Van Der Meer and Corne De Koning, are acing both the PR2 and PR3 events. The PR2 in Gavirate and also took the gold at the Poznan World Cup. De Koning raced in the TAMix2X category in Rio (with Ester Van Der Loos) finishing 4th just 2 seconds off a medal.
Ukraine have a crew which contains the oldest competitor at the championships, 57 year old Iryna Kyrchenko. She, and partner Iaroslav Koiuda, finished 5th in Rio and so far this season have a bronze medal from the Poznan World Cup.
As well as the oldest competitor at the championships, this event also sees the youngest – 17 year old Isaac French of the USA. He’s partnered by 37 year old Laura Goodkind. She raced at the Rio Games with Roman Helman, finishing 10th overall.
Poland have the long-established pairing of Michal Gadowski and Jolanta Majka. This double were 10th in London and reached the A-final in Rio. So far this season they have a bronze medal from Gavirate and 4th in Poznan.
My picks..China in gold ahead of the Netherlands and Ukraine.
PR3 Mix 2X
Austria, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Latvia, Mexico, Netherlands, USA
Only 3 crews competed in the PR3 event at the Poznan World Cup, with Germany emerging as the winners, however Germany have selected a different pairing to compete in Florida with Valentin Luz and Jessica Dietz. They raced at Gavirate finishing 3rd of 3 1.5 minutes behind the winners.
The gold in Gavirate went to the French, Antoine Jesel and Guylaine Marchand. Marchand was world champion in the LTAMix2X event in 2016 with Fabien Saint-Lannes. She and Jesel were members of the French LTAMix 4+ that finished 8th in Rio. They continued in that boat class for the Poznan World Cup taking the silver medal. They won in Gavirate in a small field by over 5o seconds ahead of Israel.
Austria will be strong contenders for a medal with Johanna Beyer and Rainer Putz. This duo won silver at the 2016 World Championships and so far this season have a silver medal from the Poznan World Cup.
As mentioned earlier, the Netherlands are racing in both the PR2 and PR3 categories it’ll be interesting to see how they get on against athletes with less impairment.
China will be strong contenders for the medals, their crew of Qian Wang and Yunlong Wu raced as part of the LTAMix 4+ at both the London and Rio Paralympics – finishing 4th and 6th respectively. It remains to be seen how quick they are in the double, but they certainly have a wealth of experience under their belts.
My picks…France for the win, with Austria in 2nd and the Chinese in bronze.
The final event is the PR3 Mix 4+
Great Britain, Israel, Italy, Ukraine, USA
Great Britain will start as clear favourites in this event. They’ve not been beaten at a World Championships or Paralympics since 2010. There are two changes to the crew that won in Rio with James Fox and Grace Clough being joined by newcomers Oliver Stanhope from Molesey Boat Club and Lithuanian-born Giedre Rakauskaite of Worcester Rowing Club. New into the coxes seat is Anna Corderoy (also of Molesey Boat Club). They didn’t race at the world Cup but did compete at Gavirate (with Emma Todd racing in place of Rakauskaite) and recorded a 14 second win over Ukraine. It’ll be a major upset if the British don’t come away with another World title.
Looking to spoil the British party are the Americans. They were runners-up to the British in Rio and have made just one change to that crew, with Michael Varro joining Jaclyn Smith, Zachary Burns, Danielle Hansen and cox Jennifer Sichel. The Americans will be getting fed up with playing 2nd fiddle to the British having done so in 2014, 2015 and 2016. They will be hoping that finally this year they can get to hear the Stars and stripes rather than God Save The Queen!
The last crew to beat the British at a Paralympics were the Italians in 2008 and for 2017 they have two of that crew on-board – Paola Protopapa and 55 year old Luca Agoletto (making his first return to international competition since 2011). They are joined by 2 fellow crew members from the boat that raced at the 2013,14 & 15 World Championships; Lucilla Aglioti and Tommaso Schettino. They had a best finish of 2nd in 2013. Only Schettino raced in Rio where the crew finished a disappointing 10th. Now, with much more experience in the boat they pose a serious threat to the British and Americans.
Ukraine are always strong in Para-rowing and their PR3 Mix4+ stand a very good chance of getting among the medals, the crew of Olexandra Yankova, Iryna Yarynka, Olexandr Bilonozhko, Maksym Zhuk and Volodymyr Kozlov finished 6th in 2015 and 9th in Rio. They’ve made a good start to the 2017 campaign with silver at the Gavirate Regatta and then gold in the 3 boat final in Poznan.
The final crew racing are the Israelis with Simona Goren, Achiya Klein, Barak Hazor, Shay-lee Mizrachi and Leah Marissa Sass. They raced in Poznan finishing 3rd in a tight three boat final.
My picks…hard to see anyone beating the British, but the battle for the silver and bronze will be quite a contest between the Americans and Italians, with the Americans coming out on top.
So that’s it. All events previewed. Hopefully the weather gods will be kind and we’ll have a fabulous week of racing.